By Agnes Alpuerto, Cris Ligan, Doris C. Bongcac, Futch Anthony Inso, Marc Eric Cosep, Morexette Marie B. Erram, Victor Anthony V. Silva July 11,2017

FRAYED NERVES. Grade school students of the University of Cebu return to their classrooms after classes were disrupted by Monday morning’s strong aftershock.

Nenita Cortes, 34, was resting inside her bedroom on Monday morning when her bed started to shake.

She thought her dog, Coffee, moved her bed.

Fear started to creep in when she saw Coffee near the door.

Cortes immediately jumped off the bed and ran out of the house in Mandaue City, Cebu, scared that a stronger earthquake might follow.

Several residents, students and government employees went out to the streets after a magnitude 5.8 aftershock was felt in Cebu as well as in other Visayan provinces of Leyte, Negros Oriental and Bohol at 9:41 a.m.

Although the aftershock was not strong enough to cause damage on infrastructure, it was enough to rattle some nerves.

It also created a setback on the efforts to restore power in Cebu through a bypass line that would connect to the province.

Cebuanos would have to endure the rotating one-hour brownout since power deficit was expected to continue today.

“We are appealing to the public for understanding with regards to the continued abnormal power situation brought about by the July 6 earthquake,”

Betty Martinez, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) Visayas spokesperson, said in a text message.

The strong aftershock sent some students in schools in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu outside of their classrooms.

Students from the University of Cebu Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue (UCLM) campus occupied a portion of A.C. Cortes Street, obstructing the flow of traffic coming from and headed for the old Mandaue–Mactan Bridge.

While most universities in Cebu resumed their classes, some public schools decided to suspend classes the entire day.

These included the Ramon Duterte High School, Guadalupe Elementary School and Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. Memorial National High School.

Danilo Gudelusao, assistant School’s Division Superintendent of Department of Education (DepEd)-Cebu City, said the Disaster Risk Reduction Management did not find any reason to recommend the cancellation of classes.

But he said DepEd has given school principals the discretion to cancel classes if they found enough basis to do so.

Gudelusao said the Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. Memorial National High School, for one, sustained a crack on its wall.

He said schools would be inspected to ensure that these remained safe.

Work at the Cebu City Hall and the Provincial Capitol was interrupted as employees went out of their offices when they felt the strong aftershock.

City Hall employees stayed at Plaza Sugbo for about 30 minutes before returning to their offices.

Gov. Hilario Davide III joined the provincial employees on the Capitol grounds before returning to their offices after half an hour.

He told Cebu Daily News that he was happy that most employees followed evacuation protocols taught during the two earthquake drills held this year.
“I received reports that there are some who choose not to go outside,” he said.

“It was not a strong earthquake, but I still could feel it. We should not be complacent. We must follow the protocols laid out for our safety,” he said.

But work at the Talisay City Hall was suspended on Monday because Mayor Eduardo Gullas wanted all offices inspected following the strong aftershock.

Robinson Giorgio, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in Central Visayas chief, said the intensity of the aftershock in Cebu was not expected to create damage because it was far from the epicenter, which was 9 km. southeast of Ormoc City, Leyte.

But he warned that there would be more aftershocks in the coming days.

This would be bad news to the efforts to test the bypass line that would hopefully restore power to Cebu and other areas.

In a statement on Monday, NGCP said testing on its Ormoc Substation was halted first by heavy rains on Sunday evening and then by the strong aftershock on Monday morning.

Testing on the Ormoc Substation resumed at around 3 p.m., the NGCP said.

Once testing is successful, power will be able to flow through the Tabango–Ormoc bypass line, which will allow the provinces of Samar, Leyte, Biliran and Bohol to receive power from Cebu.

Martinez earlier explained that they had to establish another route so power that exited from Cebu would go to Tabango, Leyte, and then straight to Ormoc.

Leyte, Samar, Bohol and Biliran sourced their power supply from the geothermal plants in Leyte owned by the Energy Development Corp. (EDC), which were damaged by the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that shook the province last Thursday.

But Martinez said conducting the test in the presence of rain would not yield accurate results.

She said NGCP personnel had to temporarily cease operations amid the downpour since they could not base their next move on unreliable findings.

“Whether the test results will be positive or negative, it is not really reflective of the true state of the equipment. Moisture in the environment will affect the testing. They will do well without moisture,” Martinez explained.

Martinez said it was difficult to tell when testing would be completed, given the prevailing weather conditions, but added that they were doing their best to stay close to their target date, which was Monday.

The EDC has earlier promised to deliver 317 megawatts (MW) to the Visayas grid within 10 days when the repairs on its facilities had been completed.

The Ormoc Substation delivers power to the four affected provinces through the marshalling switch station, owned by the EDC which was still undergoing repairs.

On Tuesday, the NGCP projected the deficit in the Visayas grid at 244 MW, with available capacity at 1,557 MW and system peak at 1,801 MW.

The Visayan Electric Company (Veco) would continue its hour-long rotational brownouts in its franchise area in Metro Cebu to address the shortage in power supply in the Visayas.

The power utility said Veco could not be certain of the schedule and areas that would be affected as its limited power supply would be distributed accordingly to the whole franchise area, depending on the demand or load peak.

Veco, the second-largest power utility in the country next to the Manila Electric Company, serves the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay and Naga, and the towns of Liloan, Consolacion, Minglanilla and San Fernando. Its daily demand ranges from 400 to 500 MW.

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